Images of cats and dogs with the text The Humane Society of New York Since 1904

Rescue Reads

When Is a Life Not Worth Helping?


A basset hound is examined by a veterinarian

We received a call from a man who needed medical help for his ten-year-old dog. His neighborhood vet was closed because of COVID and they advised him to contact us. He had discovered a growth on Chumley’s back and it was getting bigger every day. The owner couldn’t manage him on a bus and he didn’t have money to take a taxi. By the time he was able to get to us the growth had enlarged enormously and was bleeding. For traveling, he put one of his tee-shirts on him to act as a bandage.

As part of our medical work-up we found that Chumley could barely walk because of the condition of his nails. They were so overgrown they were curling over and piercing into his foot pads. He calmly let us examine him and never put up a fuss.

We performed surgery on the good-natured basset hound and removed the entire tumor. Thankfully, all of the biopsies came back as benign. Now back at home, his owner reports that Chumley is active and playful again, and thanked us for helping him during this challenging time.

It’s important that pet owners have a place that they can trust and turn to. We understand that animals are their family, maybe their only family, and it is important to everyone to keep your family well. The pets are their joy, their pleasure, and very often their support system. Their animal is depending on them, and they are depending on us.

A Cat's Story

A litter box taped closed and tied in a trash bag trapping a sick cat inside

One night, a kindhearted man was walking his dog in the rain and heard mewing sounds coming from a pile of garbage. His dog was barking and laser-focused on a certain spot. The man knew there was a live animal in there. He called his friend who was a cat rescuer, and she came over right away.

The woman started digging through the debris and followed the sounds to one large black trash bag. Inside the bag was a litter box with a lid. The opening where a cat could go in or out had been sealed with a piece of cardboard. Duct tape was wrapped round and round the plastic box from top to bottom, making sure that it would not open.

The woman tore off the cardboard to find a black-and-white cat sitting in an inch of water. The woman was amazed at how friendly she was. This sweet old cat, someone’s pet, was simply put outside for sanitation to take her away.

Instead of taking her to a vet or surrendering her to a shelter, the person chose to put her in the garbage.

The cat was in terrible condition. Her fur was mostly hard clumps of matted hair, soaked in urine. The woman took her right away to another animal hospital. They did some testing, put the cat on pain medication and ultimately recommended that she bring the cat to us. We did a medical workup, and an abdominal ultrasound revealed an inoperable situation. It is heartbreaking to say that we were presented with a terminally ill animal.

We didn’t even know the poor cat’s name.

We wish we could say that she had a happy ending. It was upsetting for all of us to deal with. To honor her memory, we chose to tell her story. She deserved a gentler and softer world. We were consoled that we were at least able to provide her some care and affection in her last days.


Sasha the dog relaxes on couch with young girl

The woman lived in Maryland and needed to surrender her dog. There were several rescue organizations in her area, but a friend recommended that she contact our Society.

Sasha was two years old, a classic beauty, and weighed 101 pounds. The woman had grown up with Great Pyrenees; she cherished the breed and Sasha, in particular. The woman knew Sasha’s every like and dislike. She got along with other dogs, chased squirrels and loved being brushed. She was fond of playing one-sided fetch, as she seldom brought any stick back. Most notably, Sasha was often anxious and had severe separation anxiety. If her owner left her alone for more than thirty minutes, she would leave music on for her. A particular Walt Disney soundtrack, Moana, seemed to soothe her the most.

The woman groomed her daily, “Her new family will need to love hair.” Sasha was regularly taken to the veterinarian and was only fed the highest-quality food. But, Sasha had to find a new home because the woman had to go away indefinitely. “I love her so much, but I have to go on a mission. My heart is broken, but I trust you all and know that you will keep her safe.” The woman didn’t hesitate to make the long drive in from Maryland with Sasha to meet us, and we agreed to take this lovely dog into our adoption center.

When Sasha began her stay with us she was quite nervous and upset. A few days went by before she would lift her head up off her paws to look at us. She did respond well to treats, which she gently took from our hands. We knew there was hope for her to adjust, but it would take a great deal of time and patience.

At first she didn’t want to walk outside. “You’ll need three people to get her inside a building, one behind and one on each side.” Thankfully we didn’t find that to be the case. But we didn’t push her; we took her up to our enclosed dog roof-run so she could exercise off leash and get to know us.

Sasha was smart and wanted to please the people that cared for her, and we let her gain her confidence in baby steps. Our dog handlers spent a great deal of time with her. Sitting next to her, leaving and then returning with no fanfare. One kennel person downloaded Moana, her Disney favorite, on his phone and they listened together while he massaged her ears; he quickly became one of her favorite people. In a relatively short time Sasha began to feel comfortable and looked forward to her walks and happily interacted with everyone.

It almost sounds too perfect, but through a friend of the Society, we are pleased to report that Sasha is back to being a country girl. She is now part of a wonderful family on a farm in Vermont.

Any dog can be a shelter dog. Any age, any breed, any size. Like Sasha, you can be beautiful and still find yourself without a home.


Highway the dogPhoto by Richard Phibbs

A lot of people come in for the young ones. In our Vladimir Horowitz/Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center we have everything: young, middle-aged and senior animals who come to us in need.

One is Highway, a Dalmatian mix. It's easy to imagine him as a youngster with his whimsical spots and sweet disposition. Highway is aptly named; that's where he was found running, scared and barely dodging honking vehicles. A member of our board happened to be in her car and was able to gently and capably coax him into her back seat. Even after his terrifying ordeal, he willingly got into a stranger's car.

Everyone adores Highway, who we place at about ten years old. He arrived in very serious condition, severely underweight and dehydrated. Because he had pancreatitis, he was too sick to eat. Highway was never neutered and his hearing is poor. Our specialist confirmed that perhaps he sees a shadow or two, but otherwise he is blind.


Nacho is a senior Chihuahua. Like Highway, he is also around ten years old and blind. His lean little legs are long and vulnerable. He was being roughly handled by a group of teens on the street. A concerned adult stepped in and sensed that they had no attachment to the dog. When she offered them ten dollars, they gladly made the exchange. That's how devalued his little life was to these kids. The woman then brought Nacho to us.

Nacho the dog being supported by a staff member

Nacho was not just underweight, he was emaciated. His nails had grown so long they had curled under and into his feet, making it impossible to walk. Our doctors found he has a heart murmur and some age-related kidney issues. We are slowly building him up with nutrient-dense food, vitamin supplements and IV fluids. He has gained weight and is a dream of a patient. When he recognizes a familiar voice, he playfully stands up, takes a bow and wags his tail.

Neither dog had any identification. We will never know how or why they ended up alone and in harm's way.

Highway is much better. After a lot of intensive medical treatment his pancreatitis is gone and he eats well. He loves to walk briskly and is very confident when we put him in his special harness and lead. Nacho also likes his walks, but on cool, rainy days, he much prefers to lounge in bed with his many toys.